Writing, Between and Beyond
Chair: Dr Caroline Magennis (Lecturer, Salford)
This panel brings together three academics who have moved from traditional scholarship into a more creative kind of writing. It will begin with short readings.
The Promise of Ficto-Criticism (Dr Jane Kilby)
Senior Lecturer, Salford
As a reader, I prefer scholarly writing (I’m not a big reader of novels but I try keeping that quiet). As a writer, however, I’ve developed a liking for making things up (although not all the time, otherwise I would be novelist). To be able to read my own work, then, I’ve started to blur the art of scholarship and storytelling. Ficto-criticism is an approximate yet enabling term for this hybrid practice. (To say I’m blurring truth and fiction, or critical and creative writing is not quite right. ‘Scholarship’ is a distinct institutional practice, which is shaped by a range disciplinary conventions and protocols.) I’m still trying to make sense of what this new writing means, of what it promises and its viability. (There are issues.) However, if pushed I would say I now writing in discovery of change and how it might happen. There has to be a politics at work.
Writing ‘in between’: Breaking the Rules of Academic Writing (Dr Claire Lynch)
I started writing memoir in the spaces in between. The first draft was written wedged between two incubators. At night, when the babies slept and we didn’t, I wrote about our new family. As the babies grew, so did the memoir, and I found space to write between the things I know as a theorist and the things I’m learning as a writer. Learning how to write memoir (as opposed to writing about memoir) has taught me how much I didn’t know about it. When I sit at my desk to write I hear the siren call of library catalogues and bibliographies, I am happy there, but I can’t find what I need.
When I write autobiographically, I am, in many ways, deliberately breaking the ‘rules’ of academic writing. There are no footnotes to hide behind, no conventions of rhetoric to distance me from the language. Personal essays are ethically challenging; the people I represent are not symbolic or fictive, they are real people, many of whom live in my house. The form is, by definition, exposing, compromising even. How can an academic maintain a position of intellectual objectivity if she also publishes stories in which she makes jokes about her ovaries? How can an academic stick to the old rules once she learns the value of breaking them?
Writing Female Rage, Before & After MeToo (Katie Lowe)
Novelist and PhD Student, Birmingham
The conversation around female anger has changed. Books like Rebecca Traister’s Good and Mad, Brittney Cooper’s Eloquent Rage and Soraya Chemaly’s Rage Becomes Her – all published in 2018 – have made explicit the ways in which female rage has been transformed by contemporary cultural events, from the election of Donald Trump, to the #MeToo movement.
My novel, The Furies, was written over seven months in 2017, with the final rights auction taking place in the US on the same day the Harvey Weinstein allegations were first published in the New York Times.
The language created by the widespread emergence of #MeToo that followed has created a shorthand for addressing ideas around women’s anger, sexual harassment and power that have always been present, but have only recently been embraced by the mainstream culture – and has enabled me to explore this anger both in the wider landscape of modernist and contemporary fiction, and in my own creative practice.